The Rev. Jesse B. Barber Sr., 86, a Presbyterian minister for 56 years who helped develop church desegregation policies as a member of the Board of National Missions of the United Presbyterian Church, died Saturday of renal failure at Providence Hospital.
During his ministerial career, Mr. Barber had been a pastor, a Sunday School missionary and dean of the Theological Seminary at Lincoln University in Oxford Pa., from which he earned bachelor's and master's degrees.
He began in 1918 as pastor of the Grace Presbyterian Church in Seattle, Wash., and later moved to Charlotte, N.C., where he was a Sunday School missionary. From 1926 until 1941, he served as pastor of the Leonard Street Presbyterian Church in Chattanooga.
While in Chattanooga, Mr. Barber also served as director of the Newton Normal Institute, a parochial school that later became the Newton Community Center. His wife, Mae, a church missionary, who died Jan. 21, was a teacher and principal at the school.
In addition, he helped found the Interracial Committee of Chattanooga, sharing its chairmanship with the then mayor of Chattanooga, T. C. Tompson. The Chattanooga committee was instrumental in desegregating the municipal auditorium, in helping to achieve equal pay for black teachers, and in obtaining public swimming facilities for the black community and U.S. funding for unemployed blacks.
In 1941, Mr. Barber returned to Lincoln University to become dean of the Theological Seminary, a position he held for nine years.
From 1950 until 1960, he was a member of the Board of National Missions for the Presbyterian Church.
While serving on the board, Mr. Barber was appointed secretary for the Unit of Work with Colored People. In keeping with his philosophy of a "nonsegreagated church in a nonsegregated society," he successfully appealed to the church's general assembly to change the unit's name to The Department of Work. He later served as assistant secretary of Evangelism, retiring from the board in 1960.
Mr. Barber's last asignment was in 1960 as assistant pastor of the Siloam Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn, where he regularly visited the sick and shut-ins. He was named Minister of Visitation Emeritus at his retirement in 1974.
He and his wife then came to Washington to live with their son, Dr. Jesse B. Barber Jr., a neurosurgeon at Howard University Hospital.
A native of Charlotte, N.C., Mr. Barber graduated from Lincoln University in 1915, later earning theology and master's degrees there. He earned a mster's degree in theology from Auburn Theological Seminary in 1936.
Mr. Barber received an honorary doctorate from Lincoln University in 1940. In 1952, he published a book, "Climbing Jacob's Ladder," a history of blacks in the Presbyterian Church. In addition, he had served as editor of the semimonthly magazine, "New Advance."
He also was active in the NAACP.
Besides his son, of the home in Washington, he is survived by four grandchildren.